World of Outlaws Late Model Series News & Notes: Reviewing Farmer City’s Douglas Ram Trucks Illini 100
Clanton’s First 2015 Setback, Heartbreak For Junghans, Chub’s Quick Recovery & More
By Joshua Joiner, WoO LMS PR
CONCORD, N.C. – April 22, 2015 – Shane Clanton isn’t invincible on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series this season after all.
After starting his WoO LMS campaign with eight consecutive top-five finishes and four victories, Clanton, 39, of Zebulon, Ga., experienced the first setback in the chase for his first series championship with a 23rd-place finish in Friday’s opening round of Farmer City Raceway’s Douglas Ram Trucks Illini 100 weekend.
Clanton rebounded with a fifth-place finish in Saturday’s 75-lap Illini 100 finale – a $15,000-to-win event won by Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill. – but he left Farmer City with his points lead over defending series champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., cut from 92 to 68 points.
“I said at the beginning of the year, if we keep winning races and run top fives we’re gonna be hard to beat,” Clanton said after Friday night’s 25-lap Illini 100 A-Main. “But if we’re running 23rd, we’re kind of beating ourselves.”
Indeed, Clanton’s disappointing Friday night finish could best be described as a self-inflicted wound. Instead of going on the defensive to protect his points lead, Clanton has kept the same aggressive approach that helped him build the massive early-season advantage.
That cost Clanton during time trials for Friday night’s time trials when he jumped the turn-four cushion on his first lap and ended up recording the slowest lap in his qualifying group. He never recovered and had to take his first provisional of the season to start Friday’s 25-lap A-Main.
“It’s too early to points race,” Clanton said after Friday night’s race. “We’re going out each night with the attitude that we’re here to win. That’s what got us ahead in the points to begin with and that’s what we’re sticking to.”
Clanton did indeed stick with his in-it-to-win-it approach, and it nearly cost him again on Saturday. During time trials for Farmer City’s $15,000-to-win Illini 100 finale, Clanton spun out in turn four on his warmup lap. Luckily, Clanton was able to continue without major harm to his No. 25 Capital Race Car and went on to record the fastest time in his qualifying group.
He later won his heat race and ran as high as third in the A-Main before dropping to fifth at the finish.
“I was going for the gusto – wreckers or checkers,” Clanton said when asked about Saturday’s qualifying mishap. “I was trying hard because that’s what it takes to qualify up front at this place. If I had left anything out there, I’d probably been starting second or third row in my heat and I would’ve been mad at myself.”
Clanton realizes that he’ll likely have to reign in his aggressive driving style and conserve his points lead at some point when the tour gets closer to its November finale at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. But he doesn’t see that happening any time soon.
“I think you get to the last five or six races and you’ve got to start points racing then,” Clanton said. “But with my luck at Charlotte, I’ll need about a 300-point lead going into the World Finals if I want to win it.”
Run of Bad Luck
Chase Junghans is beginning to wonder if his luck will ever change. The 22-year-old Manhattan, Kan., driver has ran well for most of his sophomore WoO LMS season but has seen multiple strong runs wiped out by bad luck.
He had perhaps one of the best performances of his WoO LMS career going in Saturday night’s 75-lap feature but ultimately left Farmer City with nothing to show for it.
After winning his heat race, Junghans pulled ahead of a back-and-forth battle with 2014 Illini 100 winner Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., to lead 19 laps of the prestigious event.
With his Shop Quik-sponsored Capital machine hampered by front-end damage from hitting a chunk of mud, Junghans lost the lead and began to fade but was still in line to score a strong finish until contact from third-running Kevin Weaver of Gibson, City, Ill., sent both cars spinning.
“It’s beyond disappointing,” said Junghans, who ended up 21st in Saturday’s final rundown. “The whole right-front of the nose was caved in and I was just trying to hold on and at least get a good finish. But (Weaver) took me out. It was all downhill from there.”
Stuck in 10th in the WoO LMS standings with just two top-10 finishes on the season, Junghans is hopeful that his luck will soon change and he’ll begin converting his strong runs into solid finishes.
“If I could ever get some damn luck, we’d be a lot better,” Junghans said. “Hopefully this is rock bottom and we can start building back up from here.
“I know they say it can always get worse, but you would think that at some point our luck has to get better.”
Knee surgery in February hasn’t slowed down Chub Frank. The 53-year-old WoO LMS veteran underwent a knee replacement operation on his left knee on Feb. 23 and has been solid in the three races since returning to the seat of his No. 1* Longhorn Chassis.
After finishes of sixth and seventh at Farmer City and a seventh-place finish at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway on April 11, Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., is third in WoO LMS standings with eight top 10s in 10 races on the season.
Frank’s recent performance is even more remarkable considering he’s not fully recovered from his surgery.
“It’s actually not bending quite as far as it should even doing therapy and stuff,” Frank said. “They told me to do normal stuff and it’ll fix itself, so I’m racing. It’s a little sore, but I just put it on ice and exercise it like they say to. I’ll keep doing that till we get past it.”
Luckily for Frank, the lingering soreness isn’t a problem when he’s in his race car.
“I don’t really feel it until I get out,” Frank said. “Maybe if it was a long yellow or if we had to sit under red or something I would start to feel it. But racing, no, I never notice it until after I get out of the car and it’s a little sore.”
Right At Home
Tim McCreadie is beginning to find himself right at home in the Land of Lincoln. McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who last season scored a $25,000 victory at nearby Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway, was perhaps the best he’s been all season at Farmer City.
Scoring his first back-to-back top-10 finishes of the year, McCreadie battled among the leaders and finished third in Friday’s 25-lap opener and advanced from 24th to ninth in Saturday’s 75-lap finale.
“They’re a little bit like New York – big cushion, slick in the middle and bite on the bottom,” McCreadie said in comparing Illinois bullrings like Farmer City and Fairbury to his beloved Empire State ovals. “In my opinion, that’s always the best kind of track because it enables the driver to do things.
“You don’t get bottled up in one lane; you can move around and drive a little harder and make some time up. It’s hard to do that nowadays with the way these cars are built and the way the tire rules are. It’s hard to just physically manhandle stuff, so it’s nice to come to places like this where you can put more gear in it and just push the throttle harder to go faster.”
Shades of Florida
With daytime temperatures creeping well into the 70s at Farmer City, WoO LMS Rookie of the Year contender Jordan Yaggy of Rochester, Minn., couldn’t help but notice how much the doubleheader weekend reminded him of the tour’s trip to Florida earlier in the season.
“You really couldn’t ask for better weather,” the 23-year-old Yaggy remarked while going through event registration and pill draw Saturday afternoon at Farmer City. “I walked out this morning and thought I was in Florida.”
As Yaggy also noticed, the Illini 100 entry list was also similar to a Florida event at Volusia Speedway Park, which like Farmer City, attracted nearly 50 entries for its weeklong DIRTcar Nationals.
“It’s kind of like Florida weather and Florida competition,” Yaggy said, noting that the Illini’s mix of WoO LMS regulars, other national travelers and regional standouts was one of the best fields he’s raced against. “We knew it was going to be tough coming to race these Illinois guys, then you throw in the extra touring guys and it’s a really tough field.
“That’s part of what makes it fun. We’re trying not to get down. This is only our second year in Super Late Model and first year out on the road like this, so we’re just having fun and learning.”
Yaggy has had his trials in his first year of national traveling, and Farmer City was no different. But the former WISSOTA Late Model standout is remaining positive as he aims to continue his learning process.
“It’s kind of been everything I expected,” said Yaggy, who finished 25th in both of the weekend’s WoO LMS A-Mains. “We had some good nights, a couple of top 10s down in Florida, then we’ve had some nights that have been a struggle.
“Everybody told me that being a rookie I was gonna take my lumps and bumps. We definitely have been, but we’re not gonna quit.”
Learning to Adjust
Like Yaggy, fellow WoO LMS rookie contender Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., has had his struggles during his first stab at full-time WoO LMS competition. But the 24-year-old racer got a chance to shine Saturday night at Farmer City.
After qualifying second fastest, Overton outdueled Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., to win his heat race and ran among the top 10 for much of the A-Main. He faded late in the race and ended up 15th at the finish, but Overton was pleased with the experience he gained in his first visit to Farmer City.
“It’s a different animal than what I’m used to racing on,” said Overton, who opened the WoO LMS season with back-to-back top-three finishes when the tour visited his home region for a pair of events at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga. “But I stayed out there and ran the whole race and we learned a lot. I think it’ll help us down the road and it felt good to run up front for a little bit.”
Like most first-time travelers, Overton has found it difficult to adjust to tracks he’s unfamiliar with, especially on nights when there isn’t much time for practice.
“It’s tough because you unload and all you get is a green, a white and a checkered (in hot laps),” Overton said. “Then you better be good in qualifying or you’re in for a long night.
“Every racetrack you go to is so different. Even if they look the same, they’re still so different. That’s what we’ve gotta get used to: how to adjust to tracks we’ve never been to.”
The good news for Overton is he has four races in a row coming up at tracks where he has considerable experience, beginning with the May 1 WoO LMS visit to Friendship Motor Speedway in Elkin, N.C. The 4/10-mile, which welcomes the WoO LMS for the first time ever, was the site of one of Overton’s biggest Super Late Model victories on the Carolina Clash tour last season.
“Now we’re headed back to my house,” Overton said. “I can’t wait to get to some tracks I know so I can maybe build a little bit of confidence. I guess we could go to those tracks and not be any good, but I think we’ll be OK. I’m much more comfortable when we’re running those tracks around home.”
WoO LMS competitors take the upcoming weekend off before returning to action with a May 1-2 doubleheader in North Carolina. Both the Blue Ridge Bash on Fri., May 1 at Friendship and the WoO LMS portion of Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway’s Tar Heel 100 on Sat., May 2 feature 50-lap, $10,000-to-win A-Mains.
From North Carolina, the series heads to Kentucky for the tour’s first visit to Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Ky., on Fri., May 8. On Sat., May 9, the series moves to Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn., for the third annual Mountain Outlaw 50 Presented by NAPA. Both events pay $10,000 to the winner.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com. Fans can also follow the WoO LMS on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/WoOLateModels and Facebook at www.Facebook.com/WorldofOutlawsLateModelSeries
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Bad Boy Buggies (Official Side-by-Side Vehicle) Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), Lincoln Welder (Official Welder), VP Racing Fuel (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award); in addition to contingency sponsors: Butlerbuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Edelbrock, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, Mobil 1, MSD, Ohlins Shocks, QA1, QuarterMaster, Superflow Dynos and Wrisco Aluminum; along with manufacturer sponsors Capital Race Cars, Club 29 Chassis, Integra Shocks, Impact Racing Products, Intercomp, Racing Electronics, Rocket Chassis, and TNT Rescue.